Dean Saunders thinks Daniel Sturridge has as much talent as Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero – but he must start to “fit into [Jurgen] Klopp’s formula” if he is to remain at Liverpool.
Sturridge has only made four Premier League starts this season and has failed to hit the target in any of his appearances in the league.
However, with Sadio Mane off to the African Cup of Nations in January, the England international will be hoping to start a few more matches.
“I think Sturridge is up there with [Sergio] Aguero, talent wise. Firmino has been playing up the middle for Liverpool because he is better at getting the ball back. Sturridge, for real cutting edge and hurting you as a striker, is up there with the best,” Saunders told Premier League Daily.
“But he just can’t stay fit and they need to get to the bottom of it because the injuries are holding his career back.
“He is not getting a run of games together. Klopp has to play him up the middle, but does he react as quick as Firmino when you lose the ball? No, and that’s why Firmino plays in front of him.
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“He has got more talent than all of them, but he’s got to fit into Klopp’s formula, which is – when we lose the ball, we’ve got to get it back as quick as we can.
“The number nine that plays at the top, he is the first man on the scene and he obviously doesn’t do it quick enough for Jurgen Klopp.”
Despite praising the 27-year-old, Saunders insists that Sturridge is walking a fine line and risks being moved on if he doesn’t improve his overall performances.
“Sturridge has got more talent than everybody, do it or you’re going to get moved on,” added the former Liverpool striker.
“I think that’s going to happen in the end because if he’s not playing, he’s too good not to be playing, so in the end there’ll come to an agreement if that’s the case.
“You would have thought by now he’d be sitting there thinking “why am I not playing?” You’re not playing because you’re not working as hard as Firmino.”